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It was a regular day of work for Lucius, being the senator from a prominent family and praetor dealing with public finances and judicial matters, and as such he wouldn't have considered venturing out to the emporium magnum, one of the largest and latest markets to be constructed during his generation, unless it was out of a great deal of importance. Usually one were to think of markets such as these, as mere locations where peoples of various origins traded and bartered goods between each other, as well as the latest news and gossip exchanged freely out of hand. However they also served as discreet locations for secret meetings and gatherings took place without rousing too much suspicion at all from the authorities. The emporium magnum actually served as one of the premier spots where one could find the secret Christian community, many of its adherents were actually merchants by the day, but practised their faith openly to one another during the night when most daily activity came to a standstill. Lucius happened to meet one of these as of this very moment, utilizing some of his lunch break for this opportunity, and were about to wrap up their time.

"It's always pleasing to see that the brothers and sisters of Christ are increasing by the numbers as the days are passing by. It only gives us hope that many will be saved from eternal damnation, as those who believe in him will receive eternal life...Lucius, it can't be stated enough but we're all grateful that we have you for support and guidance in trying times such as these, and I can only imagine about the precarious position you're placing yourself in; the aid we've received so far on your behalf has done wonders." The Christian devotee said in a rather low tone, taking a walk around the market place and passing by the stalls with Lucius.

"Please my fellow brother, there's no further need to flatter me; I've already received my fair share and your efforts shouldn't be neglected either. All of us, whether we're poor or rich, Roman or not Roman, are the most humble of servants to the One and Only Lord himself. There will be a day when the entire world has heard of Christ's message and then I'm more than sure enough that darkness and ignorance will be but an ancient memory. I've made my vow to God that I shall serve on behalf of his mercy until he decides that my life is no longer needed." Lucius grabbed hold of his hand as he said those words of hopeful encouragement, taking a closer look in his friend's eyes. 

"No matter what anyone tells you Lucius, always remember that you're a Good man." He put his hand on the same location of Lucius' heart. "If you continue down this path of enlightenment that has clearly changed you into the better self, I'm sure that you'll sit on the Father's right side in the Kingdom of Heaven...Well, also before I leave, my wife wishes to convey this message of happiness: she's expecting our third child." He laughed out of joy along with Lucius, who simply congratulated him and wished them further success in life. "It's truly a miracle...when we used to devote ourselves to these false, pagan Gods only barren fruits could be produced out of this union I have with my wife, and that was only if we were lucky enough. But now that we're following in the footsteps of the Messiah." He stopped himself in order to not fell too many a tear."

"It's indeed and truly a miracle you speak of, and thus this proves to show that only by giving thanks to the Lord daily, he shall reward his most faithful adherents with the gifts they rightly deserve, and that includes beautiful children created in his image." Lucius gave him a tap on his back and then embraced him fully, as he too wanted to one day experience the same feeling as this fellow brother of Christ emitted. "How about we utter the prayer that the Lord taught us?" Both men bowed their heads down, closed their eyes and gave thanks to their God for all the good that happened thus far. "I shall see you and your family later at the Common Meal, and Linus will be the one to conduct it, as one couldn't have asked for a great shepard such as him able to guide his flock back on the right track." Lucius couldn't help but feel admiration and respect for Linus, as he was the main reason as to why he converted in the first place, and becoming a changed man out of it wasn't something to take lightly about.

"I'll be looking forward to it as always, and it gladdens me that you feel the same way as well. I also hope that one day God shall lead you to a worthy woman willing to share the treasure of having Christ in one's life and bearing fruits out of a mutual union of love and compassion between one another. Farewell my Senator and Brother. I shall keep you in my prayers always." He shook hands with Lucius, before disappearing into the sea of crowds that filled the entire market place. 

"I shall do the same, Brother." Lucius told himself from within, and he could've by now headed back to the Forum Romanum to resume his work, but there was still some time to take a look around the market and who knows, there might've been a potential item of great value that he couldn't possibly resist to purchase. After all, goods whose origins stretched far beyond the borders of the Empire found their way to the emporium magnum, and what better way to get to know the tapestry of colors and patters no?

@Atrice

Edited by The Young Pope
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For Lexus, it was just another ordinary day in the life of a 15 year old Roman boy. He usually had plenty of time in the days and today was no exception. The work he’d taken so far was often in the evening, although he planned on going to see that Oriana very soon about the job in her garden. Maybe he’d go tomorrow. Today he had other plans… or did he? Other than tour around Rome once more, admiring the buildings and the people here. Lexus was open-minded and curious; he could spend all day just walking and see who he’d meet. He often met very interesting people and he enjoyed meeting new people.

Somehow he’d ended up at the marketplace today and checked his purse to see how many coins he had. Perhaps he could afford a honey-cake or an almond-cake. That would be lovely! Although he ought to spend them on bread for himself and his mother of course. Actual food, not just treats. It was a tough choice and he decided to wait a little. Of someone offered cakes very cheaply though, he might be tempted. But for now he resisted the urge to buy sweets and walked around, looking at the place. He kind of wished his good friend Phaedo was here, but he hadn’t seen him in a long while and he’d heard he was sold to someone else. It was of course what his friend had wished for, instead of being a slave in the Domus Venus. He deserved a personal master and someone who’d like him for who he was. Someone who might even set him free. It might be strange that a boy like Lexus would befriend a slave, someone who was even a prostitute, but Phaedo had been nice to him and they enjoyed spending time together. And since both of Lexus’ parents had once been slaves, he didn’t feel they were beneath him.

He stopped to watch some people at a shop with fine figurines, remembering the one Phaedo had given him once. What a pity he wasn’t here. Lexus tore his eyes from the wooden figurines, as the scent of honeyed bread reached him again. Oh it was so tempting!

No, he had to save the money for something better… something more useful. His mother would have been proud to find out that he didn’t buy the honey-cake when he wanted to. Lexus turned away to find the nearest water fountain for a drink instead and as he approached it, there was another man just near. Someone very nicely dressed, maybe he was even a Senator. What was he doing in the marketplace on his own? Well Lexus didn’t know. He went to drink from the fountain... but as he bent over to reach the water, someone was rushing behind him and by accident (or maybe it wasn’t?) he was pushed out of the way and dipped his whole head into the water with a yelp.

When he came up again, he looked around, but whoever did it was already gone. Great. Now he was dripping wet. Lexus sighed, this was just him being lucky, wasn’t it?

@The Young Pope

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As Lucius was strolling along the stalls, he took the opportunity to think for himself, something he enjoyed doing as it acted as a method to mentally process what he'd been seeing and hearing thus far. Of course it had to eventually end, especially if a great disturbance came in the way and disrupted everything, which became quite the annoyance and proved to show that a great market place wasn't exactly the ideal location to conduct thinking in magnitudes. It happened precisely as the senator happened to pass by a fountain, noticing how a seemingly ordinary boy was retrieving water to refresh himself, when suddenly a bunch of street kids acctidentally bumped into Lucius whilst playing tag. 

"Hey watch it, people are actually walking here too!" Lucius sternly told one of the street kids who had the audacity to bump into him, though he realised that wrath was no longer going to take hold of him, and he too was once a kid who liked to play around and annoy boring adults who couldn't understand their own world of reality all around them. The street kids giggled and resumed running after each other, as Lucius was about to mind his own business once more, when he realised that he too caused an accident by making that boy by the fountain drown his head into it.

"Oh my goodness!" Lucius helped the now drenched boy to his feet and took a good look at him. "Apologies my little friend, these street kids bumped into me as they were playing, and it seems I managed to in return bump into you and now you're wet...Please have a few coins and buy yourself some new clothes if you'd like, or a tasty treaty to compensate my clumsy behaviour." He tried to force some coins into the boy's hands, hoping that he would accept it out of sincere generosity. This was the new Lucius, as before he wouldn't have showed the same kindness and care previously, and he felt rather good about it. 

@Atrice

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Lexus felt he was often unlucky, like now. He’d just been wanting a drink and now his face and hair was wet and dripping on the rest of him – and it wasn’t summer anymore. He sighed, wondering if this was his own fault. He was often rather clumsy, he knew that. Sometimes he just forgot to think about things. His mother would sometimes say that’s how the mind of a 15 year old functioned – they didn’t always think and didn’t always consider consequences. And he should learn to be better at that, now that he was growing up.

Suddenly he was spoken to – the fine looking Senator he noticed before reached to help Lexus to his feet, apologizing… did he do it? Why? But the man went on about kids bumping into him so that he in turn bumped into Lexus. And then he forced a few coins into Lexus' hand and said he should buy clothes or a treat. It was the man's way of saying sorry, but... what? Lexus looked at him with all kinds of surprise written over his dripping wet face.

“You’re giving me… you want me to have these?” Lexus said, amazed that he was just being given money like that! He hadn’t done anything to earn it and he never met someone before, who’d just willingly give away money like that.

“I… I’ll be fine. Stuff like this happens. I just need to get dry again.” He said. Honestly it happened a little too often. Not that he got soaked like this, but incidents and odd accidents. Then he held out the money. He should take them, but he felt it wouldn’t be right to just accept money from a stranger and over such a thing... "You should keep these or give them to someone who needs them more. I didn’t to anything to earn them.”

@The Young Pope

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Truth be told, trying to be the 'neighbourly nice guy' was still a learning curve, even for someone like Senator Lucius. Not that he wasn't capable of showing kindness before, but then it was more about someone having to earn his complete trust and friendship in order for it to show. This time, it was about being totally and spontaneous about it, but then again each and every day acted as a life lesson for him to eventually master and perfect it; who knows, perhaps this was a test by the Lord himself to see how much he has progressed throughout his upbringing in this new faith? Whatever the case may be, it seemed that Lucius wouldn't be returning any time sooner to the Forum Roman, that's for sure.

"Yes of course I'm giving you these coins, and please accept them. I promise and swear on the graves of my father and mother that there's no need to do any service towards me, nor any forced repayment at a later date." Lucius smiled, closing the palms of the boy's hands to truly show that he meant it. "As for those who're in much more need, well I can already tell you that so much has been done to aid them. Besides, I actually noticed you earlier eyeing on some of those cakes, and clearly that requires some additional funding. I wouldn't deny that to someone who cherishes the finer things in life." He chuckled, giving a pat on the boy's shoulder. 

"I'm Senator Lucius Furius Pontius Thracius, by the way." Lucius stretched out his hand for the boy to shake it. "Who might you be my son? Are you waiting for your parents, or here by yourself?" There was something about this kid that intrigued him, and though he couldn't exactly ponpoint it, he knew that the boy deserved his attention and he wouldn't just leave him by the side of that fountain just yet. 

@Atrice

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Lexus had met friendly people in Rome more than once, but someone just giving him money because he’d been unfortunate and had been pushed into the water of the fountain… that was out of the ordinary and he wasn’t quite sure he believed it. Or trusted it. His mother would probably say that you should never trust such money, because the giver would expect a favor. But the stranger here said that Lexus should accept the money and that Lexus would not need to repay him at any time.

“You’re very kind, domine.” Lexus said with a smile to him and decided to accept and he put the coins into the little purse that was hanging in the simple belt he wore around his waist. Meanwhile the man went on about how he’d already aided those in need and he’d apparently seen Lexus look at the cakes and thought he should have one. He was more than kind! It was almost confusing. The grown men at the parties where Lexus had served would only give him such favors because they hoped he’d repay them later. He never did, it was still a bit… too much for him. He smiled at the stranger though, happy that he could now afford a cake for himself.

Meanwhile the man now introduced himself and offered his hand, asking for Lexus’ name too. He took the strong hand of the Senator, “I’m Lexus Naevius Gineverus.” He said, “I’m just here by myself. My mother is working but I don’t have anything until tonight.” He left out the part about his mother being the only one he had. There was not a set of parents here. He’d been raised by his mother alone and never knew a father. He looked at the man, “Why do you ask?”

@The Young Pope

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Lucius noticed that Lexus mentioned his mom, but not his father, which was a minor yet important detail to note and usually was a result of years partaking in conversations with others. It could indicate that the father was dead or left them for whatever reason. In any case, it would've been too early and rude of him to press the boy on more information. For now it was more important for the senator to gain the trust from him, if he'd like to continue having company. "It's my curiosity which compels me to ask...Well by now I should actually head back to my duties in the Forum Romanum, but truth be told I think the other senators can afford my absence and besides, it has been a while since I set afoot in the Emporium Magnum. Now would you like to explore the rest of the market with the likes of someone like me? Naturally, if you'd prefer that I leave you be, I'll gladly do so with pleasure and we can be off on our seperate ways in this instant."

It didn't irk him at all by making this ultimatum to the boy, himself knowing that it's certainly a bit unusual for someone of his rank to start suddenly spending time with someone of the lower rank, especially if it's the first time they'd ever set their eyes upon each other. "Also, there's no need to call me Dominus or anything along those lines, as Lucius will just do fine." If there was one aspect of his neewfound faith taught him, it was being humble and understanding towards others, including lowering one's self to their position. Everyone was equal in his eyes and no one could be considered to be better compared to others, as everyone ought to have the chance to make their mark on society without any hindrance standing in the way. In any case, Lucius eagerly awaited the boy's answer and hoped that he would accept his offer of being each other's company.

@Atrice

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He couldn’t help but wonder at this whole incident – he was still wet and it was partly this man’s fault (though truthfully, only indirectly) and in return, the man would give him coin and now he wondered about Lexus name and where his parents were. He of course explained it and then of course wondered why the man wished to know. He said he was just curious and then went on about how he ought to return to the Forum Romanum to work, but the others wouldn’t miss him and he wanted to explore the market… together with Lexus.

“I suppose I wouldn’t mind that. I’m just here on my own, so company might be nice.” He said to the man, who then continued to say he could just call him Lucius, “Alright, Lucius… and you can call me Lexus, that will be fine too.” He had noticed how his name more than once made people give him a second look – it wasn’t a common name and he shared it with a gladiator who was famous before the civil war over ten years ago. It didn’t matter though, he knew whose name it was and now it was his. As far as he knew, it was all he had left from his father.

“Do you want to come and get a honey-cake then? Maybe you should have one too, they are really good.” Lexus said, but also politely waited to see if the man would actually come, “Do you have a son of your own, Lucius?” He wondered curiously on the way.

@The Young Pope

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Lucius also couldn't help but feel positively surprised about the ongoing developments he was having with this boy, now with the addition of getting know his name...Lexus, which was a short form of Alexius in most cases. "You have the name of the greatest conqueror this world has ever witnessed...Megas Aleksandros...though I suspect you already knew this by now. It's a great one, and something that you should cherish as every day goes by." With both of them introducing one another in a formal fashion, Lucius decided to move onwards somewhere else, the question was where to though? They had to eventually stop somewhere to rest and refresh themselves from all of that strolling. Luckily Lexus decided to wisely invite him for grabbing some honey-cake treats. "Oh honey-cakes are my absolute favorite since I was a child, so I'm naturally inclined to take upon that offers of yours...Is there any favorite stand that sells them here? Otherwise I would kindly recommend one that I've always returned to throughtout these years that I ever set afoot in this market."

It seemed that Lexus decided to return the favor, and started asking some personal questions about the senator, not that he minded at all. "A son? No, unfortunately not yet. I'm afraid that I haven't found a suitable woman to become my wife, or rather it's the other way around...there hasn't been any woman willing take upon my offer of marriage." He chuckled, but this was just another reminder to him that it was about time he started to settle down with the opposite sex and start acquiring his own offspring to continue the family legacy, and someone to share his faith that he happens to be so passionate about. "I've several wonderful nieces and nephews though, thanks to my sister Furia Pontia who was married off quite early at behest of my father Lucius Major...Personally I believe marriage should be reserved for an older aged couple, since one has had enough life experiences to make wiser decisions, as well as being more mature. Though that's too much of an idealized vision and reality often turns out to be different than one's expectations, though who knows what might happen in the future...What do you have to say about that, Lexus?"

Lucius was curious to see how well the boy could articulate himself, and whether he was capable of conducting these types of conversations that were normally reserved to an older age group. 

@Atrice

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Lexus knew his name was familiar in Rome, but what Lucius revealed was something he didn’t know. He also shared name with a great conqueror and it did sound quite amazing. He shook his head at the man, he hadn’t had anyone to educate him in such things and they weren’t very wealthy, he and his mother, “I didn’t know that, but it sounds very interesting!” Now he kind of wished he knew how to read, because there must surely be something written about that conqueror somewhere. Megas Aleksandros, it did sound grand. And it was his namesake too, apparently.

Then he’d wanted that honey-cake and suggested Lucius got one too. Lucius said they were also his favorite and wondered if Lexus had a favorite stall, “There’s a few good ones, but if you know one that’s been good for a long time… I’m happy to try something new.” Lexus said with a grin. Although as long as it was sweet, he would be happy. On the way he asked if Lucius had a son and forgot to consider they didn’t know each other so well, so maybe he should not ask such personal questions. Lexus did have a tendency to be too curious sometimes. Lucius luckily didn’t tell him to stop asking, instead he just answered. He hadn’t found a wife, so he had no son.

“That’s a pity. You’re a Senator, you should be able to find someone.” Lexus said to the man, it wasn’t like he was ugly or anything and he did seem nice too, so he should not be alone. Lucius went on about how he had nieces and nephews and thought marriage shouldn’t be for the young, but for when you were more mature. He tried to follow the man’s words and then he was suddenly asked what he thought about that. What?

“I… never thought about it much. I guess I’ll marry someday, but I don’t know anything about who I'll marry... or about marriage, really.” His mother never had a husband, after all. He didn’t know why she never found herself a husband, but she just didn’t and now she was still just a freedwoman and not young anymore. Not that he considered his mother old, but still. It just never happened. And he never had a girl he really liked or anything. He'd just been kissed by that slave-girl on Saturnalia and that wasn't a very good experience and not how he imagined his first kiss would be. 

@The Young Pope

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"Oh Lexus, Alexander the Great was just twenty years old when he inherited the throne of his father, but through following his dreams and never letting anyone else stand in his way, did he create the largest empire in the world even surpassing ours. He remained undefeated in battle and the legacy he created still stands til' this very day, though he died young after merely thirteen years on the throne, his empire disintegrating quickly due to infighting between his generals. He could be a cruel man towards his enemies, showing no mercy whatsoever at times, but there was this side of being an open-minded intellectual who wanted to break cultural boundaries between peoples. I personally believe that if his body and not only the mind belonged that to a God, he could've conquered the entire world if he'd wanted to. Of course I encourage you to discover more about him yourself some day, as my words alone aren't enough to talk about this great man, and I believe it may be of great use to you: I could certainly help you in that regard."

Lucius was close to even be willing enough to lend him his scrolls about the Greek conqueror, though he quickly came to realise that Lexus probably didn't know how to read just yet and it may have offended him if he suggested it too early. In any case, the senator was pleased to hear that the boy wouldn't mind being led to his favorite stall where they sold honey cakes. He found it to be amusing as well when Lexus suggested that it wouldn't be too hard for someone like that of his rank and status in society to find a suitable wife either, as to which he couldn't help but agree to an extent, as it was common to assume certain preconditions for situations. Finally he decided to take a pause in their walk, leading him to the side of the walkway under the shade, escaping the radiating heat of the sun's rays. 

"I suppose it's supposed to work that way, me being a senator affords advantages compared to others, but the truth to it all is that if you take a closer look you'll see that you and my own prospects aren't much different after all. It's all about taking the initiative to find someone suitable, and as you can clearly notice even til' now I remain unmarried, and there were times when I thought that I had a specific person in mind to be my wife." Lucius was naturally referring to Oriana Laecania, considering her to be among  the brightest and most beautiful women he'd ever known personally. His father Lucius Major even considered her to be a good match for his son, but now they acted rather as close friends to one another. Personally, he treated the matter as a regular tow-sided coin, where on the one hand they could've become quite the couple and family together, but on the other hand it was probably for the best that the Divine decided a different path for them to take.

"It actually gladdens me when you haven't thought much about, as you should, Lexus. You're still young and have your entire life ahead of you until such a matter becomes relevant, as love sometimes can arrive right in front of you when it's least expected, and from there it's simply taking the initiative if you truly feel that she is the one perfect match for you." Lucius tapped his back before resuming their walk towards the honey-cake stall, which already emitted such a delightful smell from afar. He was looking forward to be munching on some sweets with this boy he'd recently met, and the early afternoon turned out to be a terrific one so far. The senator wondered if the stall owner would remember him at all, since it was a while ago since he ever visited them, being a loyal customer of theirs for quite some time. Sooner or later, they arrived at Lucius' favorite honey-cake stall which happened to sell other equally good sweets and treats, based on the display of an array of edible goods attracting hungry customers. 

"Clovia, are you there? It's me Senator Lucius...your best and most loyal customer!" he exclaimed, hoping that it wouldn't have sounded brash enough.

"Oh my...Am I beginning to see things, or is that truly you Lucius?!" An elderly lady with visible grey hairs and wrinkles on her face appeared, rising from beneath the stand itself, her eyes lit up over someone she hadn't seen and talked to for over a long time. "Come closer and give mama Clovia a sweet kiss...where have you been this entire time?!" Clovia, who'd been running that stall for decades, pulled Lucius somwhat forcefully the senator closer and gave him a kiss right on his mouth, catching him by complete surprise and started to jiggle his face as if he was still a little boy. Afterwards a brief moment of catching up transpired between them, asking each other how they fared since last time they met amongst other subjects, whether he'd manage to find himself a wife or not.

"Still no luck from Eros herself, but at least I know that my impressive schlong here..." Lucius teased her and let out a laugh not heard in a while. "Oh you dirty man, not in front of the boy, he doesn't need to hear such filth yet!" The old woman punched his arm, though a small grin formed on her kind face, realising that he hadn't been introduced yet to him. "Who might this little handsome person be; a familial kin of yours?" She asked curiously whilst preparing some sweets to be put in front of the stall. "Oh no, he and I just happened to meet each other after a tiny accident involving water, and now we're roaming the market together as it were. Clovia, this is Lexus, Lexus this is Clovia who happens to be the finest honey-cake maker you'll ever come across." She stretched out her hand for him to shake it before resuming her duty as a seller. 

"Well as much as I'd like to keep chatting I've still a busy day in front of me, and I'm sure it wouldn't be wise to take up much of your time either. But pleased to see you once more Lucius, and likewise for bringing your little friend here. Well, you're of course here to eat some of my honey-cakes, but have you taken a look at the other sweets that are on display?" She gestured with her hand, running it across the various baked goods that could make even the most resilient persons fill their mouths with an overflow of salivia, tempting them to devour everything they saw. "Hmm...Ooh it looks so hard to simply choose one from the other...Lexus, how about we pick a little bit of everything, no? My dear Clovia, you have a spare basket we could use? I fear that we'll be leaving with an awful lot of your deliciousness." The old woman didn't hesitate at all to give him a spare basket, feeling pleased about the amount of coins she was about to receive from a senator such as himself. 

"As you should Senator Lucius, as you should, haha!"

@Atrice

 

 

 

Edited by The Young Pope
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His mother had never been able to afford a tutor for Lexus, so most of what he knew about the world was something he’d picked up when he served at parties or on the streets of Rome and in various other cities and towns they passed through. Compared to Lucius, he probably didn’t know anything at all and he’d certainly never heard about Alexander the Great before. He went quiet while Lucius educated him on the matter. Apparently Alexander the Great had been a king who created an empire larger than the Roman!

“He does sound great, Lucius. I can’t believe I never heard about him before… that’s quite the namesake, I think.” Greater than his father, perhaps. He knew the name Alexander of course and that Lexus could be a shortened form of that, but he had never heard this tale before. That was something to look up to, although he’d never be as great as that man. He wasn’t a prince and he wasn’t here to inherit an empire. But it was still very interesting. Then they’d suddenly discussed marriage, all because Lexus asked if the man had sons and he thought Lucius should be able to find himself a wife. And the man agreed, but he just simply hadn’t found someone suitable yet. Lexus of course hadn’t thought much about marriage and Lucius thought it was right, because he was young and then he spoke of love. Lexus knew many marriages had nothing to do with love, but it would be nice to experience.

“I hope I’ll find a perfect match someday. But I’d like to… I don’t know… make something of myself first. If you marry you should be able to provide for your wife, shouldn’t you? And I can’t do that yet.” He needed to find a proper trade and grow up, but he was still young and had too much he wanted to do and try to do before he settled down. Too many hormones running around in his body and he was even still a virgin! Soon they arrived at Lucius’ favorite honey-cake seller and Lexus stood behind while the man greeted the owner of the shop – a friendly looking elderly lady, whom Lucius joked with and then Lexus was introduced. He gave the woman a smile and took her hand, “It’s nice to meet you, Clovia.” He said to her, feeling a bit shy and awkward. Luckily then, Lucius went on to buy the sweets and was even able to borrow a basket. It would seem that although he gave Lexus coins, the man would pay anyway and they’d get more than just one cake each. Lexus was surprised at how friendly and kind Lucius was; they just happened to meet and here they were, buying cakes and he was so nice. It really was a pity he had no wife and no sons, Lexus bet he’d be a great father. Not that he knew much about what a great father was, but he had his ideas of course.

Now he quietly and politely waited for Lucius to finish the shopping and he wondered where they'd go to eat. Maybe he could get Lucius to show him some of the temples he always admired or something like that. He was a very interesting man and he seemed to know a lot - and Lexus was eager to learn.

@The Young Pope

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Alexander the Great may have been among his idols ranked highly on the list, but even then this mortal conqueror couldn't come close to the Son of God, sent by the Father to be born by the Virgin Mary in flesh and blood, just to be crucified and later resurrected three days later. His sacrifice meant that death could finally be conquered and everyone who believed in him would be granted eternal life. This was a story of such a huge magnitude that surpassed everything else Lucius ever read and heard about, and he couldn't have been more happy enough to now belong the legacy the Lord left behind, and what would follow one day after. However, that was another great tale for Lexus to hear some other time, and Lucius wanted to concentrate on having this lovely moment sharing sweets with the little boy, whilst getting to know him better. Their delicious feasting wouldn't occur in the market however, as the senator would've preferred somewhere else more spacious and green.

"Yes, that's a good point you're making, something which many tend to sometimes forget when they let love or emotions that resemble love take contol of their thoughts and actions. Just believe in yourself, Lexus, and anything will be possible. It hasn't been unheard of men of lower classes to eventually become equites or even senators themselves, through hard work and well, of course a little bit of luck on the way." Lucius told him that before introducing him to Clovia the honey-maker, and wished that the boy would take those words seriously and inspire only aid his inspiration further. With the shopping now coming to an end, and after taking farewell of the old woman, the duo had to come up with their next location in mind. "How about we sit on one of the smaller hills overlooking the city? We should be able to smell fresh air and experience lesser amounts of people, rather than the excruciating stench and touching bodies wherever you walk here. I happen to know a great location, a few paces of steps from the market."

As they began to be on the move again, Lucius continued with their discussion. "So, what is it you like to do during your free time? I assume you must be working by now, if my judgement's correct."

@Atrice

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Lexus was curious and young and inexperienced in most matters – but he was very eager to learn and he paid attention to everything this clever and nice Senator told him. He felt he must seem very uneducated towards such a man, but of course he was. He never had a tutor, he couldn’t read or write… his mother hadn’t been able to afford one and with all their travelling and moving around, they never had time to settle down. Living in Rome for over a year was quite the accomplishment in fact, and he wondered if his mother would decide to move again soon. But not now and definitely not right now, when he was going to enjoy honey-cakes with a Senator called Lucius.

When discussing marriage, Lexus of course hoped he’d find a perfect match one day in the future – but for now, all he knew was that he ought to be able to provide for a wife, if he should take one. Lucius thought it was a good point he made and then he told Lexus to believe in himself and that he could even become and equite or even a Senator someday. That would be quite something – the son of two slaves or former slaves, turning to become a great man in Rome.

“I’m willing to do that… to work hard. I think I have a lot to learn though. You know many things, Lucius. I feel like I don’t know anything.” He said to the kind man, as they left Clovia’s stall. Lucius thought they should go sit on a hill overlooking the city and he knew a place. Lexus nodded, that sounded like a great plan. He eyed the basket of goods from the bakery, but had the patience to wait for it at least. On the way, Lucius now wondered what he did.

“I just explore Rome, mostly. The jobs I’ve taken are in the evening, I often serve at parties. Tomorrow though, I plan on going to see a woman who offered me a job in her garden. I think that’ll be good for me, to use my hands instead of just serving at parties. But in the day, I just explore the city. Sometimes I help out mother, but she’s a seamstress and I can sew and help her, it’s just… not what I imagine doing for the rest of my life.” He said and looked up at Lucius, “I would like to rise to a higher class someday. I think mother would be so proud if I did.”

@The Young Pope

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"You flatter me so Lexus..." Lucius put one hand on the boy's back, whilst carrying the sweet basket in the other, as they continued to exit the market area. A small thought often kept up reappearing in his mind, whether he would actually be a good father by know if he decided to get married at such a young age, about the rough time frame of Lexus' own in fact. "Indeed, I may know a lot about many subjects and matters, but there's still a lot I do not know about. Perhaps I've already said this, but each day is a valuable lesson of life. What many don't realise is that even if we gain knowledge through reading dusty old scrolls you find in the library or lying around somewhere close to your bed, experience itself through hard, dedicated work shouldn't be taken lightly either. The majority of us begin from the bottom of society, and that includes senators since we follow our own 'cursus honorum'. It's not always a guarantee of course, but it helps to 'weed' out the unsuitables candidates from taking up higher positions such as Consuls or Governors running our provinces. Otherwise you may find an inexperienced eighteen-year old at the helm of a Consulship, and even if a term lasts but a year, it could be a disastrous event despite the presence of our Caesar, though it does beg the question whether the Caesar in turn would be inexperienced."

Lucius paused as they began to reach higher grounds, going back to his temporay thoughts about raising children of his own from a younger age. His sister Furia Tullia's fate was different compared to his, and her marriage prospects turned out to be more fruitful in a sense, even if she may have disliked it being wedded off to someone she hardly knew or loved at first. By spending time with Lexus, he came to realise that it was for the better that he waited and that no 'suitable' woman arrived at his doorstep, as he wouldn't have been able to deliver other aspects of life other than the one of a member of the Roman Nobility, many of its values and practices whether formal or informal he outright rejected. "I'm sure she's already proud of you in so many ways, for even performing these various jobs whether you fancy them or not, as long as the pay's reasonable enough I'd imagine. Even then, wouldn't you admit that you learn many knew things through these jobs? Always remember this though; the rule about 'a mother knows best' shouldn't be discarded outright as I've had mine to thank for various reasons and helped me shape the person who I am today...more or less. However sometimes we need to make our own decisions, weighing in different choices and opinions about certain matters, and the advice of a parent may not always hold the ultimate solution. There's a chance that your mother may disapprove of your decision if hers isn't adhered to, but know for the fact that if the gut instinct tells you that this was the right course of action, she would understand over time. My father for instance wanted me to pursue the military path in this cursus honorum I've mentioned about, claiming this and that would be good for a senator of my reputation in society. However I went against his wishes and pursued that of a civilian, knowing well enough that I my usefulness to help others through judicial matters rather than keeping control of the borders would be a better fate. So here I am standing right in front of you, and not serving in Dacia or Hispania."

Lucius was known to be a talker, and talking he did for quite some time. It may have been a lot for a young boy such as Lucius to process in his head, though the senator wanted to truly make him understand how complex and nuanced real life could actually be despite the simplicity of looking at it on the outside. "Speaking of your jobs, helping out at parties doesn't sound all too bad, serving food and drink to guests?" Hopefully that's what he meant by 'serving' at parties and not taking it far enough to include 'services' of the more explicit kind, as Lucius himself knew that there were boys at his age who'd began being introduced to such salacious stuff, which was far too young and immoral in his opinion. Back in the old days he'd never committed himself of lying with another boy, though he only heard it through discussions with other senators, which only made it more disgusting in his mind and started to feel more sick when he came to think about it. "A garden...I see. Do you know the name of this woman in particular, or at least where she lives exactly?" This client most likely belonged to the Senatore or Equite class, and Lucius was more than curious enough to find out if he knew her. 

@Atrice

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To think that his mother thought he talked too much sometimes – she should meet Lucius then, he thought to himself! Not that he minded all the talking, but he tried his best to keep up. He did think Lucius seemed very clever and he knew a lot while compared to him, Lexus knew nothing. Lucius was humble though, said there were things he didn’t know and that experience and life was kind of something to learn from too. You couldn’t read everything in a scroll, that’s what Lexus got from what he said. He nodded when Lucius pointed out that a Consul and even a Caesar wasn’t supposed to be inexperienced.

“That makes sense. You still know more than me though. I hope I’ll one day maybe be as wise as you seem to be, Lucius.” He said with a smile to his mature new friend. They were walking up hill now and Lexus had told Lucius what kind of work he did and that he was going to see someone tomorrow about working in her garden. And he wanted to make his mother proud, of course. Lucius said she was already proud, probably, and he said to listen to his mother but also make his own decisions. He listened quietly and patiently and then Lucius paused before saying that the jobs he took so far didn’t sound so bad.

“It’s not all bad and we need the money… but I just often get mistaken for a slave. And I’m not. Both of my parents were slaves. I think my mother was born into it and my father was enslaved as a child. But they were both freed, so I was born free. I don’t like to be mistaken for a slave, when I’m not.” Lexus said and Lucius had also asked who he was going to see about the garden, “Her name is Oriana Laecania. I met her at such a party, actually. It was an accident, but then she was really nice to me and offered me that job. Do you know her?”

@The Young Pope

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"Oh that you will my little friend, and I'd even go as far as to claim that your wisdom will surpass mine, by the time you reach my age. Ah it seems we've reached the end of the destination, and look at the gorgeous view that's greeting us!" The hill in particular they climbed on wasn't particularly high nor steep, though it wasn't puny compared to ordinary standards, in other words it served its purpose perfectly providing a fantastic vantage point of the Eternal City and her attractions. The sun may have been scorching hot, but it seems they were blessed by taking refuge beneath some well-placed bushes, the green foilage served as a great contrasting element and also emitted a sense of peace and tranquility within the area. Save for some day dreamers Lucius found himself alone with Lexus, reconning that this would perhaps be the culmination of their afternoon socialization. He made sure that the grass wasn't too dirty, leaning his back against a tree trunk and placing the pastry-filled basket between the two of them. "Mmm, a bit of honey-cake would be appropiate now".

Lucius took a bite, and as he already expected, the quality of the ingredients and style of baking didn't disappoint, bringing forth memories from what seemed to be a forgotten, distant past. As he looked at Lexus, the senator had the chance to reflect where and how all of this began, being slightly surprised by how the afternoon's turn of events came to be in favor both him and the boy. "Isn't it typical? How easy it is to judge others based on their appearances without finding out their true character as a person, even if attire and looks certainly have their uses in circumstancial cases. Working out of free will doesn't seem to apply to those belonging to those of lesser fortunes, as there doesn't seem to be a notion that it is possible for something to be in-between. Utterly shameful to say the least." This was once more a compelling reason as to why Lucius came to despise slavery in all of its existential forms, and desired for it to be vanquished one day. His face began to shine upon hearing about Oriana's role as Lexus' new employer, however, and realised how small the world is.

"Oriana Laecania?...Why yes, most certainly do I know her and much more than that, as this very fine and astute Lady happens to be among my best friends. I've always had the privilege to receive invitations to her reputable banquets, and now that you're mentioning about being offered that job through one isn't surprising at all, as she truly thrives off of these festivities whenever she gets the chance. You're under perfectly good care, and that I can attest to! I'm actually planning to attend one of her upcoming banquets in the next few weeks as we speak, as it has been an awfully long while since that happened." Lucius truly missed Oriana's presence in his life, as she was one of the few actual friends he could ever put his entire faith and trust upon, being a great confider and listener at that, especially if one had certain problems that ought to be discussed in particular detail, or secrets that no one had to worry about being exposed for. However, with his newly turned, upside down lifestyle, he had to naturally be careful about revealing it, considering it could ruin his entire life if the wrong people were to get hold of this.

"Speaking of jobs, I'm wondering if you'd be interested in having a second job, practically at my Domus? I haven't thought out yet what you could be doing, but I'm sure the household servants wouldn't mind receiving an extra pair of hands once in a while. The pay would be most wonderful, as you would be receiving in salary at the minimum double the amount compared to others in the area, and even the chance for that to increase over time. If the need would arise, you would be provided with our own living quarters as a matter of fact." Lucius made that generous offer in order to show his sincere care and appreciation towards the boy, and was willing to aid him in succeeding early on in life. The senator had already witnessed many cases where boys in Lexus' age entered into a downward spiral that couldn't possibly be overcome, criminality being the most common consequence of lacking enough stable familial support and enough funds to secure food for the day. 

"Know that my offer will always stand no matter what, and you're free to decline this for now if some thinking, as well as consultation with your mom, is required before making such a decision...Also drink a bit of Mulsum, it's important to fill up with liquids." Lucius opened a portable pouch that basically contained honeyed wine, which was a courtesy of the old woman Clovia. A refreshing and suitable drink during these periods of hot climate, the senator took a few clunks from his own pouch, and the sound of a satisfied sensation could be heard. 

@Atrice

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His mother had brought him up well and taught him good manners, so that even if he often was clumsy and landed himself in situations that weren’t a lot of fun – like being knocked right into a fountain – he could still proceed with the day and even have a chat with a Senator, apparently, if that’s what was in store for him. Lucius thought he would be wise and even wiser than Lucius was. That was kind of him to say, Lexus thought, while the other proclaimed they’d reached their destination. It was nice up here, less crowded and with a pretty view over a part of the city. He smiled, watching Lucius sit down against a tree trunk and Lexus sat down next to him.

“Honey cake is almost always appropriate, isn’t it?” Lexus said with a little chuckle and picked up a cake too, while watching the older man. He wasn’t even that old, he thought, but at least he was older than Lexus. He was grown and he bet the Senator had tried a lot of stuff that Lexus knew nothing about. They went back to the conversation though, when Lexus had talked about being mistaken for a slave and Lucius thought it was just typical and didn’t seem to think it was fair, “People judge other people a lot, I find. They don’t ask, they just assume. It’s not very nice.” Lexus commented. He’d also told Lucius who he was going to see about the job in a garden and it turned out that Lucius knew Oriana!

He said Oriana was one of his best friends and that he was going to attend one of her banquets again soon. Lexus smiled at the man, “She does seem like a very caring and nice woman.” He said, because really, she had been so towards Lexus and it sounded like she was friendly with Lucius too, since they were friends. Then Lucius suddenly also said that Lexus could come and work in his house, he didn’t know what Lexus would do, but he could be an extra pair of hands. And he would be paid really well!

“Thank you, Lucius… I will definitely consider that offer. Maybe having two jobs isn’t too bad, I’ll earn more and both me and my mother can use that. We just have an insula, the two of us. I think I’ll keep living with my mother though, I can’t imagine leaving her alone. But I will talk to her about the job at your place too.” Having two jobs with wealthy people was surely a good thing! Maybe he and his mother could move to a nicer place with more space and not just live in an insula in the subura… while he thought it over, Lucius then offered him a bit to drink and Lexus took the flask and drank a bit too. It was spiced and sweet wine. Lexus gave it back to Lucius and took another bite of his honey-cake, “This is really nice. I really didn’t imagine this, when I went to the market. But you never know or guess what’s going to happen, right?”  And the day wasn’t even over yet. He looked at Lucius, wondering shortly if he had an agenda Lexus hadn’t figured out. Many men at the parties he served at would give him looks and hoped he’d react to them, but he was too shy and it seemed… dirty, somehow. Lucius was nice though, he was different. But of course, he just mentioned that he was tired of people judging others. So he shouldn’t judge Lucius. He seemed to be a rare case of an actual, nice person.

@The Young Pope

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Lucius almost lost track of time sitting there under the shade, munching on honey-cakes, and interacting with a boy he hardly knew before, but now felt like they were long lost friends that had now found their way back to each other. The chatting went on for quite a few hours, though it was a fun, pleasant experience for the senator who had grown awfully tired of the serious discussion and debates that always took place with the other senators, and there hadn't been a stress-relieving conversation with someone else other than the servants in a quite a while. There was plenty of honeyed wine and honey-cakes too still lying in the basket, but the pressure that was growing inside of Lucius' stomach indicated that it was perhaps a good time to refrain from stuffing more sweets into a bloated belly. He realised however that forming a family and raising children of his own, with a soul mate he could definitely see spending the rest of his life with, became a valid priority and he couldn't thank Lexus sincerely enough for this opportunity.

"Me neither Lexus, but talking about life in general with you, along with wine and most importantly honey-cakes...I'd say that it was all worth it, and I'm glad to make a new friend out of it, something which you can attest to as well. In the process, you got yourself a new job offer that's most likely too attractive to not ignore, and all of that hard earned money will be of great use to you and your dear mother. I would've probably become depressed making a return back to the Forum Romanum and continue listening to the regular complaints and other nasty things senators these would like to talk about, rather than what's most pressing in our society today. In any case, perhaps I should stop myself there since I'm starting to exhibit the same traits as them." Even if the day wasn't technically over, Lucius dedicated some thoughts to what he should be doing with the boy after their snacking came to an end, and unless he'd like to spend a bit more time on top of the hill, it would've been wise to make some preparatory alternatives in his head. 

"Say Lexus, is there something else you'd like to do, or another place in mind you'd like to visit? I have all the rest of the day to continue hanging out with you, if it's by will. There's no rush either and we can rest here a little more, being entertained by this unforgettable view." 

@Atrice

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This was really nice. He never had anyone to do this kind of stuff with. Sure he had friends before, but no one who’d buy a whole basket of pastries and bring him up to a hill where they could just relax and chat and have a drink too. And talk about anything that came to their minds. He told Lucius how nice it was and how you never knew what would happen next. Lucius said it was all worth it and he called Lexus his friend, then. And pointed out that Lexus also had a job offer. Then he went on about how he could have returned to the Forum Romanum and that would make him depressed. Lexus gave him a smile, “Well maybe it was the gods who set us on the path of meeting each other. Since we’re both enjoying it so much.” He suggested with a cheerful tone.

Lucius then wondered if he’d like to do something else and they could hang out for the rest of the day together. It wasn’t very hard to answer that, in fact – because it wasn’t every day he had a clever Senator he could call his friend.

“Would you show me the Forum Romanum? I’ve been there before, but last time I kind of… it was an accident, but I made a princess’ lectica fall over, because I was so in awe of the beautiful buildings and surroundings. Maybe it would be better to go there with someone who knows what it all is and where to go? Would you like to do that?” Lexus asked, unsure if Lucius would even want to go there, since he just spoke of how nice this was compared to how his day would have been, had he gone back to the Forum Romanum. But Lexus was open-minded and willing to learn – and more than ready to take in all the knowledge that Lucius would share. He never knew before how much he had actually craved that.

@The Young Pope

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"Indeed, it must've been the Divinity which brought us two strangers together, and out of something entirely else in a beautiful manner." For Lucius though, it was the doing of only one God when referring to that term. With no faith remaining in the 'old gods', he still respected these false deities in a way, considering the fact that they've meant so much to so many, including his own family who regarded Mars, the Red God of War, as the official patron. It tied in rather well with their supposed warlike Thracian heritage giving them their signature physical features within the red spectrum, as well as a hefty temper which wasn't something to mess with unless one could call one's self as brave and crazy enough to bear it. The senator still acted as a patron towards the family's charioteer team and gladiatorial school, making good use of Mars as a maskot and an effective maskot at that. He smiled back, as it wasn't every every he could call a once stranger of a boy his friend. 

"Lexus, I would gladly give you a personal tour of the Forum, which as evidently enough is my place of work. I'm so glad that you even considered making such a suggestion for the next activity in which both of us can do. I suggest that we go now then if you feel satisfied with your honey-cakes and wine, as we can hopefully spare enough time and potentially see interesting things on the way." He had to make an edit to himself in regards to feeling depressed when having to return to the forum, as it was naturally an entirely different matter together if he took with him a friend or two, and he tuly thrived on showing others how the Roman state apparatus actually functioned, including 'Barbarians' who recently moved into the city and really had no one else to turn to other than a rather open-minded Lucius. The senator proceeded to take up the basket and motioned the little friend to start walking beside him down the hill, taking one last look on the horizon and the magnificent view of the city. He would most likely return one day with someone else he considered to be close with.

"Is there anything else you'd wish to ask me about? I'll do my best to continue answering to the best of my ability." 

@Atrice

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